When Meenakshi of Laughing Penguins kindly agreed – thank you Meenakshi! – to pair her verses with my images of the iconic ‘Lara Croft’ temple of Ta Phrom, I knew she would bring more to this post than just her evocative words.
Here is her homage to the desolate grandeur of the tree strangled monument. Her lyrical accompaniment dancing a pas de deux with my photographs of the eerie tableaux.
Hope you enjoy this as much as we did
And walls of trees, are dusted with heavenly graces.
“Come fly away with us,” low-hung banyan roots entice thought-echoes as they sift the ancient moss-licked stone.
“The sky above the Rajavihara is dry and the intonations will quench its sandy face.”
Shadows, wrinkled, wise, gaze into shards of broken stone walls and swathes of silences that stayed on when voices faded and footfalls died.
Mystery darkens faces of the deities lovingly etched by workmen a thousand years ago…
“It had been a time of plenty, when the Prajnaparamita was honored by Jayavarman.
It had been a time of joy when anklets of dancers and chants of priests orated into the gentle forest. Ephemeral all….”
“As time walked away, wisdom withdrew behind a veil, and contemplation became astonished stones,
….it’s been ages since worshipers genuflected here!”
After the faithful fell with the Khmer, a sparrow flew down one morning from the green sky above the eastern gopura.
She hesitated beside a gently flaring pillar:
“Why is there this eerie silence, only the dust mites can be heard sighing and soughing…..
and is that an ancient monk hurrying out?
Why, only the other day, silks rustled disdainfully in hues of magenta and cyan……
Blushing ankle bells tinkled delicately to a celestial web of rhythm and song……
Why, only the other day, voices of hope rose into the air like a haze of butterflies, and occasionally, a fervent call touched the cheek of the sky with a tear.”
The sparrow remembered. She grew sad.
Then, tremulously, bravely, she began to pipe her morning song, a brown or grey ditty of modest trillings and callings.
The beatific sunlight in morning corridors touched it with divine strings and her humble song transformed into an aria in paradise.
…….That was when the jungle came to think of Ta Prohm as its own.
Banyan roots linked arms with shy columns and vines clung to filigree wall faces of moss.
“We will uphold your columns, as you will uplift us, and we will soar into heaven.”
It was a bond of love forged in faith.
And so, even to this day, as steps approach leonine arches, forest fairies press forward…..
leafy wings and eager sky-lined faces, bowing in ageless courtesies.
A fig tree abides atop a patiently upstanding gopura.
Look on… a breathing curtain of roots shields against the harsh badgering of sun and rain,
and a sturdy band of banyan flows along the ground to shore up moisture-laden stones.
All elements are together: a root-hand drapes over an arch here, and there it hugs a secret entrance.
…….And so, it stands, lofty like timeless poetry.
Softly flowing waves of stone and prayer merging
in unseen currents,
serene breath of wonder,
in a forest absently……
to a temple agelessly……